There was uproar across social media when the line-up for the Reading/Leeds Festival weekender was released. With a distinct lack of big name rock bands on the bill and a leaning towards hip-hop and grime, there were plenty of disgruntled punters it has to be said.
Still, we love our weekend at Bramham Park and, apart from the shitty weather on the Sunday, this year didn’t disappoint with the first day offering up a host of great bands including Lock-Up Stage Headliners Hollywood Undead, the raucous punk rock of Billy Talent, who managed to rock harder than any band should given the downpour that drenched the festival site moments before they took to the stage and the chaotic rap/metal/hardcore fury of Stray From The Path amongst others. Here are eight of our top moments from Day One.
1. Dinosaur Pile-Up getting noisy as hell opening the Main Stage
At this time on a Friday, a good percentage of the punters here are still wiping the crap out of their hair and trying to find out what the hell happened last night for them to end up with a missing shoe and a shopping trolley in their tent. For those that struggled their way down to the main stage, Friday openers Dinosaur Pile-Up shook them awake with a Nirvana inspired grunge session ramping the noise levels up a bit with the stupidly raucous “Thrash Metal Cassettes”.
2. Realising that NF could be the new Eminem
With all good superstars there comes a time when that edge just starts to fade and while rap superstar Eminem isn’t ready for the knackers yard yet, Michigan rapper NF (or Nathan John Feuerstein) showed with a ferocious set on the Radio 1 Stage that he isn’t far behind Slim Shady with some seriously hard-hitting rap. Already a superstar in the States, judging by the crowds today, the UK is quickly catching on to this rap heavyweight.
3. The secret sets at Leeds Festival ALWAYS rule
Over the years Reading/Leeds organisers have always pulled it out of the bag when it comes to secret acts with the likes of Green Day and Queens Of The Stone Age amongst the acts making “unexpected” appearances in recent years. This year organisers had two secret acts with the first being everyone’s favourite punk rocker Frank Carter. He caused absolute pandemonium on the Radio 1 stage this time last year so, in 2018, when he hit the stage in the much smaller Lock-Up tent, a war erupted in front of him. Afforded only half an hour on stage, Carter wasted no time in inciting mayhem in the only way Carter can. Brilliant stuff.
4. Scarlxrd rewrites the rulebook when it comes to hard music
He cut his teeth in a nu-metal band but now Londoner Scarlxrd has taken his sound in a completely different direction. Mixing trap music with metal, Scarlxrd, accompanied by his buddy, play to a dangerously full Radio 1 Xtra stage and deliver one of the most energetic sets of the weekend with a good percentage of it being spent in the crowd. They may not be to everybody’s taste but, make no mistake, this man knows how to put on a live show.
5. Indie rules at Leeds despite heavy rap/grime presence
When the line-up was first announced there was rumbles of unrest amongst the hardcore Reading/Leeds faithful who bemoaned the lack of serious rock action but, despite the presence of acts like Lil’ Pump and Bexey on the bill for the first day, it was the indie rockers like The Vaccines and The Courteeners who came out on top with some seriously hefty main stage performances. Both bands drew huge crowds to the main stage proving that, while YouTube might be the go to place for kids wanting the new sensations, nothing will ever kill off guitar-based rock.
6. The Alternative Stage provides a day of top laughs
Tucked away in the top corner of the site and away from the bedlam of ninety thousand people let loose in a field, the Alternative Stage sees some of the top comics on the circuit providing plenty of laughs. Friday included gay comic and familiar Mock The Week guest, Tom Allen, on a bill that also included the brilliant Dane Baptiste, the hugely popular Mo Gilligan and headliner Chris Ramsey whose Geordie humour provided the perfect end to a day of top quality laughs.
7. Tom Grennan’s “Make ‘Em Like You” is an absolute tune!
There is no denying the fact that singer/songwriter Tom Grennan is one of our brightest new stars. With a top voice, an infectious stage presence and banging songs like the “Make ‘Em Like You” it’s no surprise that the tent is bouncing on Friday night. Judging by this performance, headlining the Festival Republic Stage is clearly just the start for someone who is going all the way to the top.
8. Kings Of Leon are proper festival headline material
In the metal world, people are wondering who will be the next big headliners when the big guns like Iron Maiden call it a day. There is no such problem in the more mainstream world where Kings Of Leon proved that they are still more than capable of producing the kind of massive performance that is demanded from your festival headline act. From the career-spanning set to the big hit singles like “Sex On Fire”, Kings Of Leon may not put on the big theatrical shows like some headliners but when they rock out the big guns like “Use Somebody”, Caleb and co prove they can still be the Kings of the Festival circuit.